Overuse Injuries

Definition and why they occur?

We are all creatures of habit that perform a majority of the same activities and movements day in and day out. Whether it’s the certain way we move to get out of bed in the morning or how we sit at our desk throughout an entire work day, these can add up to cause an overuse injury. They are also known as cumulative trauma disorders because of how they result from repetitive stress or demand on joints and surrounding tissue(s) over time. The term encompasses a large range of diagnoses that can stem from both occupational and habitual activities, as well as athletics.


The most obvious, yet most commonly overlooked solution is simply to rest and avoid the activity causing the repetitive stress. Although, this is the hallmark component of what a physical therapy treatment for this type of disorder will include, there is also a lot more that can be addressed to treat the injury and prevent it from re-occurring.

Intervention and Prevention

Your doctor will perform the most thorough evaluation of not only the physical components surrounding the injury, but the possible environmental causes as well. This will help to evaluate what specific stresses (i.e. tension, compression, vibration, impingement, etc.) are being repetitively placed on the injured tissue, which will further improve the diagnosis and effectively plan the treatment. Once the underlying causes are determined, you will be educated on proper body mechanics and an individualized home exercise program will be created to help you fully recover, and stay healthy and pain-free over the long term.

Overuse injuries can occur in any person, but people with certain medical conditions are more prone to these injuries. However, most overuse injuries can be prevented if you follow certain precautions:

  • Consult your doctor before you begin a new type of physical activity, and this is must if you have any medical condition that puts you on more risk to overuse injury. If there is muscle weakness, certain exercises may be done to address the problem and prevent muscle pain.
  • Follow the correct technique while playing the sport and also wear the appropriate shoes for your activity.
  • Always remember to warm up before any physical activity and cool down after the activity.
  • While changing your activity level, increase it gradually.
  • Do not focus on a single type of exercise; instead combine two or more physical activities (cross training). Doing activities such as walking, biking, swimming can help prevent overuse injuries.
The Royal College of Surgeons of EnglandBritish Orthopaedic AssociationBritish Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle
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